By Shireen Korkzan
Episcopal News Service
Christ Church in Gardiner, Me., is the oldest church in the Diocese of Maine. It was built in 1820, the same year Maine became a state. Three years after celebrating its bicentennial in 2020, Christ Church is now trying to raise $1 million in less than two years to save its disintegrating bell tower.
“As the community of Christ Church, we have a responsibility to preserve this landmark, not only for our worship, but because of its significance as a community space for Gardiner-area residents,” says Christ Church’s donation page on its website.
Christ Church is known as a gathering space for the Gardiner community. Its bell tower houses an original bell from the Paul Revere and Son Foundry that for the last couple of centuries has been used as a call to worship, as well as to notify the community of fires, floods and, in the early 1800s, temperance meetings.
Paul Revere was a silversmith, early industrialist and patriot best known for his 1775 “midnight ride,” when he alerted American colonial militia in Massachusetts that British soldiers were on their way to raid military supplies. The ride occurred just before the start of the Revolutionary War.
According to the Rev. Kerry Mansir, Christ Church’s rector, acute water damage has opened cracks in the walls around the historic bell, but repairs need to start in the next two years, otherwise the bell tower will become too perilous to fix.
“We just feel this responsibility as caretakers of this building now to do everything we can to keep, to restore it and have it be a historic landmark for a couple hundred more years, we hope,” Mansir told ABC affiliate WMTW.
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